Below is a write-up I received from a friend, who’d prefer to remain Anonymous. Stories like these make me believe there’s hope for Nigeria! Read the article and share your thoughts/experiences via the comments box below. Also, if you’d like your article to be published on ReviewNaija, click here
When I arrived Nigeria in December 2011 for my Christmas holidays, I noticed that the much-talked about toll gates had begun charging for the use of our dearly “beloved” Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue to access Lekki Scheme One and points beyond. I wondered if the toll would be fair, affordable and more importantly, if the much touted international standard of service would be provided.
So, as a frequent user of the road, I began attempting, when allowed by the manic traffic, to observe and wonder why apart from the smooth road, I was being charged N100 ($0.80) every time I used the road. I couldn’t see any visible added value to the road, except for the numerous billboards put up along the route on fencing that was erected as the route was redeveloped (which is another story). As such, I felt that I was simply donating money to yet another exploitative and unnecessary thought of some government official or the other and his cronies.
This was the sum total of my feelings about the toll-gate idea until one late Saturday night in February 2012. As usual, Lagosians were in “owambe” mode and I was not an exemption. On my way to party the night away at one of the numerous clubs that dot the Island, I was in very high spirits. Until disaster struck. Queuing to make what I call my “donation” at the toll-gate, the vehicle in front of me suddenly reversed with me unable to move the car away in time to avoid hearing the earth-shattering sound of smashing glass and metal due to the inevitable collision.
I sat in the car, shocked at how a seemingly good night had turned into an absolute near-fatal mess. The driver of the other car was unhurt and came down from her vehicle, reeking of alcohol and incoherent. Expecting to be on my own due to the “siddon-look” [sit down and look] attitude of Nigerians in such situations, I was thinking of what mechanic to call at that unholy hour, to at least get my vehicle home before charging me an arm and a leg for the pleasure of being ripped off. However I was nicely surprised to see a Toyota pick up truck, emblazoned with the LCC logo, park up behind me within 5 minutes of the accident occurring. A firm but polite knock on my window swiftly followed.
Stepping out of the car, I was just about to explain what had happened when, voice bursting with confidence, the man said “We saw it in our Control Centre. We actually came to see how we could help”. I pinched myself in disbelief, wondering if I really was in Nigeria and if I had heard well. So I asked him to repeat himself and he did. I smiled in disbelief and joy. After sitting me in their comfortable vehicle, he drove my car to the side of the road and had a look at the damage. He came back and informed me of the good news. “Not much damage, just your bumper has been displaced”, he said. I thanked him profusely and asked for my keys only for a further surprise to be revealed. They were fixing my car, right there, on the spot. FOR FREE! Amazed does not even begin to describe how I felt on hearing that.
Driving away from the scene to continue the night, albeit in a reflective mood, I was so proud of the fact that really and truly, world-class service provision is slowly and steadily becoming a feature of Nigerian road culture thanks to companies like LCC. However, they need to work on the street lighting on that road. It’s either too bright or appallingly dark!
Note: After my car was fixed, I unfortunately did not inquire as to what happened to the other driver and her vehicle but based on the treatment I received, it should be safe to assume that she was well taken care of too and hopefully someone asked questions as to why she was drinking and driving.